“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule—and both commonly succeed, and are right.”
― H.L. Mencken, Minority Report
On a daily basis, the Free Thought Project is accused of being a conservative mouthpiece, funded and run by the Koch brothers. Also, on a daily basis, the Free Thought Project is accused of being a liberal mouthpiece, funded and run by George Soros.
On a daily basis, these assertions are wholly and undeniably wrong.
When there is a government boot on your neck, whether this boot is from the left foot or right foot is of no concern.
The Free Thought Project does not keep it a secret that we hold no faith in the two-party political paradigm or process and we seek only truth and liberty for all.
We believe in freedom — and we do not follow that statement up with the word ‘but.’
We want interracial transgendered couples to be able to cultivate their organic marijuana fields on solar powered tractors, armed with AR-15s, while blogging about being anti-war and against police brutality.
Consequently, as a glaring new study illustrates, partisan media wants the exact opposite.
The study, published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, is titled, Driving a Wedge Between Evidence and Beliefs: How Online Ideological News Exposure Promotes Political Misperceptions.
The study’s authors set out to determine if partisan media sources contribute to political ignorance — and they did just that.
Data came from a three-wave panel study conducted during the 2012 presidential election. Participants were interviewed first during July-August 2012, a second time in August-October and a final time in November. A total of 652 nationally representative participants completed all three surveys, as noted by Ohio State University.
“Partisan online media drive a wedge between evidence and beliefs,” said R. Kelly Garrett, lead author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
“The more people use these sources, the more likely they are to embrace false claims, regardless of what they know about the evidence,” he explained.
The study found that both liberals and conservatives fell victim to disinformation from their perceived ‘unbiased’ sources.
“What you believe isn’t just about what party you belong to. Where you get your news matters, too,” Garrett said.
According to the study:
The emergence of the Internet as a primary source of political information has transformed many Americans’ experience of the news, giving voice to previously marginalized political factions and creating outlets for explicitly ideological reporting (Stroud, 2011; C. Sunstein, 2001). This transformation has been accompanied by numerous high-profile misperceptions, such as erroneous beliefs about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and about the birthplace of President Obama (World Public Opinion, 2006; YouGov Staff, 2014). The possibility that these phenomena are related is troubling, but evidence for the relationship is limited and the processes by which it might occur are not well understood. This article further substantiates the idea that ideologically slanted online news use promotes misperceptions.
The study focused on four misconceptions, or rather, untruths; two held prominently by liberals, and two held prominently by conservatives.
The well-documented falsehoods that favor Republicans were the claims that President Obama was not born in the United States, and that there were weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq. The Democrat-favored misperceptions parallel these. One claim was critical of the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, suggesting that Mitt Romney actively managed Bain Capital when the firm started investing in companies that outsourced work abroad. The other claim concerned an assertion supporting a widely held Democratic policy position, namely that there was an immediate drop in marine life diversity in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP oil spill.
The study found that when people consumed news from obviously left or obviously right-leaning news sites, that they were more likely to believe lies.
According to the study, when the test participants do not consume news from partisan media, they had only a 3% chance of believing lies as compared to a 33% chance by those who did.
According to OSU, because the researchers looked at participants over time, they were also able to see a feedback loop: Use of partisan media leads to inaccurate beliefs which lead to more partisan media use and so on, Garrett said.
“It isn’t just that people who hold false beliefs are more likely to consume partisan media,” he said. “The use of these outlets also predicts false beliefs in the future.”
In other words, Americans are stuck in a vicious loop of political ignorance and it is getting worse.
For the majority Americans, the United States political system is seen as a football game. Any time their party is in power, it’s as if they are ‘winning’ and the other party or team is ‘losing.’ But what most Americans fail to see is that both ‘teams’ have the same owner. That owner cares not about which one of their teams is ‘winning,’ just so long as its one of their teams in the game.
Republicans are for big government if with war and Democrats are for war if with big government. They are merely different sides to the same coin.
Seeing outside of the two-party paradigm is a difficult task, as this study shows. The partisan press, or ‘cheerleaders,’ are constantly bombarding their ‘fans’ with ideas and half-truths that reinforce this narrative. It can take years for people to break their conditioning and see the political system for the rigged game that it is.
The good news is that once you see the system for what it is, you cannot unsee it. No one goes back to sleep, despite the fact that waking up to the system can be particularly stressful.
The number of people waking up to the controlled two-party system is ever-increasing and those people, in turn, wake up others.
If you are one of those people who sees Washington DC as the Don King boxing match that it is, then you are doing something right. You are likely a reader of the alternative media, you probably don’t watch massive amounts of television, and you likely have a thirst for a lesser ignorance.
If you are accused of being a liberal and a conservative in the same conversation, it’s probably because you have broken free from the cult-like constraints placed on you by the system.
However, only waking up is not enough. If you want to affect positive change in this world, then you have to become that change. This doesn’t mean that you have to go out, buy a bullhorn and begin screaming in the streets.
Simply changing your purchasing habits can force a change far greater than any bullhorn. Voting with your dollars is far more effective at inciting change than a voting booth.
The radical and peaceful change that society needs will most assuredly not originate from the center of the very system that is designed to prevent it.
You can quite literally ‘be the change that you want to see in this world,’ and you can start this now.
Do not be discouraged by the establishment who attempts to silence your radical and peaceful views and keep them on the fringe. They do it out of fear. It’s merely an act of self-preservation, and it shows that open-mindedness and peace are overcoming cruelty and ignorance. Always remember, no army can stop an idea whose time has come.
Share this article with your friends who have broken free from political labels and let them know they are doing it right!